kevin_standlee: (Wildlife)
As long as I can get out for a walk around sunrise and sunset, I am apt to see some of the local wildlife.

Bunch of Birds )

Meanwhile: Lisa was not feeling well yesterday (nor today, actually), so instead of our original plan for our wedding anniversary, we just went down to the Black Bear Diner here in Fernley, had dinner there (they do a decent prime rib on Friday/Saturday), and played a small amount on the slot machines (no luck this time).

This morning, I got lucky on the free-play coupon from the Wigwam, so I get another "free" breakfast. But unfortunately, I couldn't go play pinball on a sort-of-underloaded weekend, because there's no machine anymore!

21 Years

Oct. 13th, 2017 01:54 pm
kevin_standlee: (Kevin and Lisa)
Lisa and I were married 21 years ago today on board chartered Portland Vintage Trolley car 513, running over Portland's light rail system. You can't repeat that trip today, because the Vintage Trolleys no longer run over the light rail network. I understand that car 513 is preserved at the Willamette Shore Railway, however.

We're having a pretty low-key anniversary. We didn't take the week off and spend the week mixing and pouring concrete like we did last year, although Lisa has been doing a bit of concrete mixing and pouring just to use up the extra sacks from our last project, in order to make room for storing firewood. But not today. Tonight we plan to go into Sparks and eat dinner at the Oyster Bar at the Sparks Nugget, then maybe go to the Atlantis and have their spectacular cheesecake. Other than that, we have no particular excitement planned. The three weeks in Europe this year sort of used up a lot of our potential for excitement this year. It certainly used up most of our available money for added excitement.

Update: Lisa was not feeling well this afternoon and wasn't up to yet another trip to Reno, so instead we went to the Black Bear Diner for a low-key night out. She says maybe she'll feel better in a few days and we'll do the Nugget trip then.

Priorities

Oct. 1st, 2017 07:58 pm
kevin_standlee: (House)
I want to apologize to those you who have been expecting things from me including minutes of meetings of which I'm Secretary and reviews of minutes of meetings of which I'm Chairman. I'm dreadfully far behind on this. Day Jobbe currently eats a lot more of my brain cycles than it once did, and I don't have time to get caught up on weekends right now. Typically, I spend a good chunk of a weekend dealing with piled up fan work; however, Lisa and I have a significant Home Improvement project going on that has to be done only during good (as in neither too hot nor too cold nor too wet nor too windy) weather. We spent much of last weekend and this weekend working on it. It involves Lisa spending too much time up on a roof doing precarious things while I alternate between worrying about her falling off the roof and rushing to get tools and supplies to pass up to her. Our work window is narrowing, as today's roof work was cut short when wind came up — and a cold wind at that.

I promise to work on these various other projects when we finish the weather-sensitive ones.
kevin_standlee: (Fernley House)
After work today, we unloaded the new office chair that we brought home from Reno from the Astro. The light was better outside, so we took some pictures there before moving it into the living room/office.

Big Chair for a Big Guy )

This is not a cheap Chinese special from Wal-Mart. It is made in the USA, cost more than $500 (Lisa bought it with some of her inheritance from her father), and is built for people who spent a lot of time sitting at a desk, which includes me. It should last effectively forever (except the upholstery).

The current plan is for me to use this chair for a few days and make sure it suits me. Assuming it does, Lisa will take my current office chair (which is also quite nice, although not as over-the-top as this new one); otherwise, Lisa gets the new one and I'll keep my current one.

Bear Wants to Try It )
kevin_standlee: (Reno)
We did manage to get to Reno to collect the new chair, after which we had dinner and did multiple grocery store stops to refill the larder. By the time we were done, it was pretty late for a work night for me, so Lisa drove us home and told me to get ready for bed while she unloaded the groceries. The chair can sit in the back of the van until Friday.
kevin_standlee: (Wigwam)
I am so predictable in some ways. This morning I once again walked down to the Wigwam to have breakfast, which I enjoyed even more because I paid for it with the money I won from their casino the previous morning off a free-play coupon. Then I walked to the Frontier Fun Center and bought five games of pinball, proceeding to play a total of twelve, which is a pretty good win rate even by my standards.

Around the time I got home, Lisa was ready to start work on today's bout of home projects, which involved her putting herself in harm's way up on the roof on a necessary project that will make things better when it was done. My job was to fetch supplies and tools to her and to call 911 if she fell off the roof, which fortunately she did not. The roof work is perhaps 25% complete, and we'll do more as time, weather, and energy permit.

When we quit for the day, we had an early dinner and then went out for a walk. This is one of the best times of the year for that. The days aren't too short, but the weather is comfortable.
kevin_standlee: (House)
With Autumn's arrival, we have reached one of the windows on which we can work on the many tasks around the property at Fernley House where we neither freeze nor melt. The weather today was essentially perfect for working on some jobs that we've been avoiding all summer and about which I will write more later when the full project is concluded. But after roughly eight hours toiling away at it, Lisa and I were both tired, sore, and hungry, so we got cleaned up and went to the Black Bear Diner for dinner. After dinner, Lisa won $5 on her favorite slot machine, which she kindly gave to me to help pay for part of the dinner.

If we're not too sore tomorrow, we have more jobs to do. There are only a few weeks of good weather before it starts getting too cold and the days too short for us to get much done, so we have to make the most of what we have.
kevin_standlee: (Rolling Stone)
I was indeed able to get away from Day Jobbe at 11 AM and head out of the Bay Area. Even then, I faced multiple slowdowns (caused by accidents) along I-680 and I-580 before escaping the Bay Area around Tracy. As usual, I stopped at Lodi Jct. for fuel at the Flying J, then in Sacramento to see my sister, before heading up the mountain. Although I'd used the air conditioning while driving through the Central Valley, after Auburn it wasn't needed, and for a while near the top I had the heat on. Summer may have only just ended, but when I stopped at Donner Summit, it was clear that Winter is coming.

Could Be a Donner Party-type Winter )

I stopped for dinner at Truckee, then drove straight for home. I arrived in Fernley around 8 PM, and was very glad to be there. Lisa helped me unload the Rolling Stone. She's been very busy this week while I was gone. She has put the portable swamp cooler away for the season and done a great deal of cleaning inside the house and tackled cutting down the pile of old pallets we'd accumulated in the side yard. This not only makes the house look much tidier, but those cut-down pallets are firewood, which Lisa needed as it's gone from hot enough to need the swamp cooler to cold enough to build a fire in the fireplace in just over a week.

My current plans don't have me needing to be in the Bay Area again until November. However, if that late-Summer snowstorm is a harbinger of the kind of winter we're going to have, I might not be driving across again until next spring!
kevin_standlee: Kevin in kakhi shirt, Jacaru hat, and sunglasses (Sheriff Kevin)
Lisa and I continue to try and recover. She's a few days behind me, but we both keep coughing. When we're feeling ambitious, we go for a walk around the block or down the street. Otherwise, it's just a slow recovery. I'm glad we took that trip, but it took a whole lot out of us. We hope we're recovered somewhat by this weekend, because there are some projects here at Fernley House that need our attention.

Bleah

Aug. 29th, 2017 05:30 pm
kevin_standlee: (Kreegah Bundalo)
Neither Lisa nor I am recovering well from the European trip. We both still have a bad cough and that keeps us from sleeping well (even with cough medication). I'm sure my co-workers in Iowa, Oregon, and Texas are happy that we all work from home, so I can't infect them with whatever I have. I do have (barely) enough energy to do the Day Jobbe, and that's about it.

We had some unexpected rain this afternoon. I'm glad to get it along with the most-all-day overcast that cut down the heat, but I hope it's not causing trouble north of here at Black Rock City. That playa is of course an ancient lake bed, and it doesn't take much to turn it from dust into mud.
kevin_standlee: (Reno)
Over the years, as Menlo got rid of surplus office chairs, I tended to accumulate them. They had dents and tears, but they worked. However, over the years they have eventually worn out, and just before we left for Europe, Lisa's ex-Menlo chair finally broke. In fact, it broke right under Lisa, throwing her to the floor, which was a bit scary. All that Lisa has left is an old office chair I bought many years ago in Yuba City when I was still living with my grandparents in Sutter, and it's nearly worn out as well. So today after work, we went into Reno/Sparks, first for a medical appointment for Lisa, and then to look into getting her a new, nice office chair. We found ourselves at Affordable Office Furniture & Supplies, where the owner was very nice to us and showed us a selection of chairs. Lisa found one that she liked. She turned it over to look at the manufacturing information, and found that this model is assembled in the USA from a mixture of US and Canadian parts. That sold her, and we ordered one for her. It's not cheap, and it will take three weeks or so for the custom order, but it looks like it should last for a long time and be very comfortable.

As I mentioned to the owner the old chair Lisa is using, I remembered and said from where I purchased it (Feather River Office Machines in Yuba City, long since out of business), and the owner pointed out that he has another store in Yuba City. We got to talking, and he knew all of the places around there: Sutter, where I lived for many years, Challenge, my hometown, and Chico, where I went to college.

WSFS tie-in: The Gavel of WSFS we used for many years (from 1993 until it got lost between Chicago and San Antonio) was also purchased at FROM in Yuba City. The one we have now is nicer, thought.
kevin_standlee: (Family)
We got a decent suite upgrade at the Holiday Inn Express last night.

Bonus Room )

With my enhanced status, I could get a 2 PM check-out, which meant that Lisa could sleep in while I dealt with the family matters on Friday morning Sacramento. Consequently, I got two breakfasts: one before I headed off for my 8:30 AM meeting, and another at the very end, nominally after breakfast closed but just before they started clearing it away.

Lisa had taken advantage of the nice hotel room to take a long bath and relax. At this point, we were in no huge hurry other than we wanted to go home, so we did not rush. We were out of the room between 11 and Noon, however, not using all of the extra time allotted to us, and making things slightly easier for housekeeping.

I drove us as far as Donner Summit, and then Lisa took over. From there we went to my company's office in Sparks, where I begged the use of their network to confirm that our company network still thinks my computer belongs to it. (I've been having connectivity problems that might have been caused by the network "forgetting" my computer.) This didn't take that long, and confirmed that yes, XPO still can see my computer when I'm on their network.

We were both still very tired, but we also needed groceries only available in Reno, so we went to Winco and Raley's, and then Lisa drove us home. We unpacked as quickly as we could, and then headed for bed. By getting groceries on the way back from Sacramento, we saved ourselves another trip to Reno this weekend. We don't want to go anywhere right now. We want to stay home and rest.
kevin_standlee: (Family)
We got home on Wednesday night from San Francisco (Millbrae), after flying from Seattle, after the KEF-MSP-SEA flight. I haven't had time to write up those stories, which were quite frustrating and make me want to avoid ever having to make an international connection at MSP ever again. I will get back to those stories later and post them as back-dated entries.

Regrettably, a family related urgent issue has come up that requires my physical presence in Sacramento at 8:30 AM Friday morning. After explaining the issue to my manager and co-workers, I took an additional day of PTO for Friday. Lisa asked me if I wanted her to drive us down to Sacramento tonight. I said yes. She's in slightly better shape than I am. I booked a room at the Holiday Inn Express Auburn Blvd and we drove down after work this afternoon. We got a nice suite upgrade (somewhat better than the hilarious Conference Suite we got at Sea-Tac) and will spend tonight down here. I have a late check-out on Friday, so Lisa can stay in the hotel while I go take care of business, and then she and I can drive home. After that I don't want to do any more traveling for a while if I can avoid it.
kevin_standlee: (Kevin and Lisa)
This was our final full day here in Iceland, and essentially the final day of the "vacation" part of the trip, as the remaining days are travel to get home, with two stopovers scheduled. Knowing our limitations, we scheduled nothing today, set no alarm, and stuck to Reykjavik.

Althing Gardens )

We were unable to find in any of the stores any rain jackets that were (a) our size, (b) our desired color and style, and (c) not Made in China. In fact, we only managed to get (a) and (b) to match once. There were way too many things with DESIGNED IN ICELAND in big type and "made in China" either hidden in small type or left off entirely, where you had to ask the staff, who would admit that despite the way the stores' signage suggested, the goods weren't really made in Iceland, or even within the EU economic zone. Annoying. It looks like we may have to go back up to Salem, Oregon, and have some coats custom-made from a place we know there.

We did, however, find a pair of work gloves that was not Chinese made and will come in handy moving wood when we get home. Nearly all heavy work gloves I can find in Fernley and environs are all Chinese.

More about Parliament Square )

We walked back to the hotel and had a "picnic lunch" in the room, eating up the last of our supplies purchased over the past few days. I was also a Very Bad Diabetic. Just across the street outside our hotel window there has been a Waffle Wagon every day. Today I broke down, went over there, and bought a chocolate-and-cream covered waffle, which I enjoyed over a coffee back in the room. (The hotel won't let you eat outside food in their common room.) It was excellent. I'm rather glad I won't get another chance to have another one now. Mind you, with over 33,000 steps walked in the past two days, I'd like to think I've earned a few indulgences.

Last Dinner )

After that big dinner, and especially the desserts, we took one last long walk around The Pond, and then up the hill to our hotel. We took a different route this time, which took us by the British Embassy (housed in the same building as the German Embassy), then past a cafe located in what a streetside plaque said was once called "Red Square" because the coffee-house was a center of Communist organization in past days. For what I expect is the final time, we climbed up to the top of the hill and returned to the hotel.

It has been an interesting four days here. We've booked our reservation for the prepaid return bus transfer to Keflavik Airport tomorrow at Noon, which will get us there a little earlier than strictly necessary, but we want extra time. Our return ticket is KEF-MSP on IcelandAir Saga class, then MSP-SEA on Alaska Airlines first class, all using Alaska Airlines miles. The first leg leaves KEF at 16:45. I checked with IcelandAir, and there's a direct KEF-SEA flight at 17:45 that has plenty of room in Saga class. However, over the phone, IcelandAir won't change the ticket because it was issued by Alaska. The Alaska agent with whom I spoke said they can't change the ticket either, despite the availability, due to the limitations on how many IcelandAir seats Alaska can sell. They both said that my only hope is to show up at the airport and see if the folks at check-in can see some sense and book us directly to Seattle, saving a great deal of hassle and transfer at MSP. Fingers crossed that is works.

There's a pretty good chance that I won't be online here again until we get to Seattle on Monday night, after a very long day in the air no matter how you slice it. Knowing that we could only get Saga class one direction, we deliberately scheduled it for the return trip. At this point in the trip, I really hope I am able to get some sleep on this portion of the trip, albeit not so much sleep that I'm ruined for returning to Pacific Time.

So long, Iceland. It's been fun. I don't know if I'll ever get to come here again, but I'm glad we came. I think I can see now why certain persons were trying to goad some of us into bidding to hold a NASFiC here.
kevin_standlee: (Kevin and Lisa)
Today was an unstructured day exploring Reykjavik. We had no idea what we would find.

Surprising Ourselves )

After our morning and early afternoon exploration, we got back on the bus. Joining us at that point were a German family heading back to the cruise ship we had seen earlier in the day. Lisa hit it off with them right away. We rode back to Hallgrímskirkja, bade the Germans bon voyage, and went back to the hotel for a break and a cup of tea for me and hot chocolate for Lisa in the hotel common room before making another walk downtown to explore more.

To the Center of Reykjavik )

Thanks to that huge lunch, Lisa and I were still not terribly hungry come 21:00, so we once again picked up some sandwich stuff and cold drinks (alas for no refrigerator in which to keep them; everything has to be eaten when purchased) for another "picnic dinner" in the hotel room.

Tomorrow is our big excursion: our "Golden Circle" tour, one of the must-not-miss parts of a trip to Iceland, or so everyone says. Fortunately we don't have to be up at the crack of dawn, especially given how early dawn is here at 66° North.
kevin_standlee: (Kevin and Lisa)
We had an 8:45 AM flight out of Helsinki this morning, so after much too little sleep we lurched out of bed, completed our packing, checked out of the hotel, and got a train to the airport. We are very grateful to the extremely frequent airport trains, because we missed the first one we planned to catch, but there was another one coming along in just a few minutes, so it did not matter.

We're in Saga class for this trip (hooray for Alaska miles), so we had access to the lounge and therefore didn't have to buy breakfast. OTOH, my unfamiliarity with the airport cost us €5 because we didn't realize where to go to cash in the one tax-rebate purchase we made, and by the time we realized that the refund place was as the other end of the terminal, it was too late because the flight to Reykjavik was already boarding.

The flight itself was routine and comfortable, with complementary noise-canceling headsets (I forgot to bring mine, which was annoying on the trip out) and another breakfast. To save some standing in like at KEF, I pre-bought the FlyBus airport-to-city transfer tickets. By the time we got to baggage claim, our bags were waiting for us, and we walked outside and found the FlyBus. We got the front two seats for the 50 km drive to Reykjavik. At the bus terminal, we had to get out and wait for a mini-bus to collect us and take us to the stop near our hotel.

Easy to Find Landmark )

If you cannot handle stairs, never stay at this hotel. You need to negotiate stairs simply to get into the front lobby from street level, and there are no lifts. Normally for us this wouldn't be a problem, but Lisa's knee has been troubling her during this trip. She can walk on flat ground okay, but stairs give her trouble. And we have a lot of luggage. (Fortunately, our room was only on the second floor (of four), so I only had to carry luggage up one flight of stairs.)

As we expected, we were vastly early, but the hotel staff were nice and let us store our (substantial) luggage behind the counter. Tea/coffee/cocoa are available at all hours in the lobby (and you can take it back to your room), so we sat and had some tea while we repacked our bags and made plans for today. After putting most of our stuff behind the hotel counter, we set off to explore and kill time until 2 PM when our room would be ready.

Tiny Room and High Prices )

This is something of a letdown after the ten nights in an Executive Floor room at the Holiday Inn Convention Centre in Helsinki. I do really wish that IHG had properties here. But we'll make the best of it.

We Have Been Warned )

We'd been warned about the high prices in Iceland, and high they are. We'll be here four nights and most of five days, and we'll need to keep costs down where we can. Tonight we decided to just buy some groceries and eat them in our hotel room. There's no refrigerator, more's the pity, but Lisa had a can of tinned fish left over from Germany, I got some salami, and we made sandwiches. They don't allow outside food in the downstairs breakfast area, and as I said, the rooms are tiny, but we made the best of it, watching a train video that Lisa had on her computer.

Tomorrow we hope to take things relatively easy and not overwhelm ourselves. Aren't vacations supposed to be restful?
kevin_standlee: (Kevin and Lisa)
After returning to the hotel with our purchases, Lisa and I stopped to have one of the sodas we bought and rest our feet. I checked messages and saw on Facebook that Kevin Roche and Andy Trembley were back in their hotel room as of only an hour earlier. I called Kevin and asked if they would like to meet for lunch, and they agreed, so we collected our things and headed back downtown.

A second reason for going back to the hotel was that I had a poster tube with the small vinyl WSFS banner (made by Sasquan) that hangs from the front of the Business Meeting table with me, and I wanted to mail it home rather than somehow try to fit it into my already overloaded luggage. The post office is downtown between the train station and the Sokos hotel where Kevin and Andy were staying, so this worked out well. The trains are running again, and there were no queues at the post office, so we managed to connect with K&A roughly on time to head off on a Viking Expedition.

We're Gonna Starve! )

After lunch, we bade K&A goodbye because we were aiming for one more hobby shop for Lisa to look for trains. It was a longer walk than I thought it would be, partially because I rather unnecessarily went up and down hills getting there. We didn't find anything Lisa wanted to get, but we found yet another person who described herself as a "con-goer" who had known about Worldcon but had not gone. We told her that Worldcon would be in Dublin in two years and she sounded interested.

Given our location, we took the opportunity to ride the Helsinki Metro. Because Cheryl's friend Otto gave us a lift from the ferry terminal when we arrived and our other trips didn't take us along the axis of the Metro, we'd never had a chance to sample it. This was more of a joy-ride, but when you've bought a multi-day unlimited transit pass, you have the ability to hop on and off systems like this.

<a data-flickr-embed= )

An afterthought from this morning: We had an interesting piece of equipment follow us down the tram tracks when we first set out for our first round of tourism and shopping.

A Tidy System is a Safe System )

After a brief recovery time in the hotel (and a final short grocery stop for a snack for tonight and for tomorrow morning), Lisa remembered something she had seen in Stockmann's department store downtown, so we made one final round trip downtown. I think we got good value from our transit pass.

Returning from the last trip, we threaded our way through the latest batch of tourists trying to figure out the elevators, Lisa took a bath, I composed journal entries, and we continued our packing. The alarm for tomorrow is set for 4:15 because we need to take an early train to get out to the airport for the flight to Iceland tomorrow.

We have had a wonderful time here in Helsinki. I would love to get a chance to come back here someday. Everyone was so good to us, and we enjoyed ourselves immensely.
kevin_standlee: (Kevin and Lisa)
Today was our final full day in Helsinki. We had no big tourist attractions left to visit. Lisa wanted to do some shopping, and she also was looking for us to track down a transportation oddity that she wanted to see.

Riding the Paternoster )

After our Adventure in Elevators, we had a "target of opportunity," in the form of a train hobby shop just a couple of doors down from the first stop. Lisa had a look through the store but did not find anything that caught her fancy.

Next was a search for an electronics store to which she had been referred in search of a particular kind of power outlet that the hardware store didn't know about. That turned out to be fruitless as well, but it was interesting to walk around and see new places.

As we were riding the #7 toward that electronics store, Lisa spotted a small appliance store and we rode back up the line to continue her search for an electric kettle not Made in China. This time, we succeeded!

Fine Czech Manufacture )

There are still a handful of Worldcon attendees staying in the Holiday Inn, and we saw a few of them in the lobby when we headed out this morning. However, now the hotel is mostly full of Chinese tour groups.

Elevator Clog )

We had to go back to the hotel to put away Lisa's newly-acquired kettle, which actually does fit in her luggage. (She says she can make it fit by putting some of her clothing inside the kettle, so the total additional cube doesn't increase that much.) That led to our final meal excursion of the trip, but that's another story.
kevin_standlee: (Kuma Bear)
On Friday, I actually did have a few hours of "spare" time after the Business Meeting, so after I changed out of my suit into my San Jose shirt and Lisa put away the recording gear, we went down and joined Linda Deneroff, then took the train downtown and had lunch because the food court restaurants had queues out the doors.

What's That? Smells Like Fish! )

While I was writing up Business Meeting summaries and getting ready for the Hugo Awards, Lisa took the tram down to the S-Market and the hardware store we found the other day and did some more hardware and grocery shopping for us. The minibar fridge is small, so we can't buy very far ahead.
kevin_standlee: (Go By Train)
This evening, we made plans to take Chris Carson out to dinner for his birthday. We were to meet at Japanese restaurant northwest of Helsinki Central train station. The most straightforward way to reach it would have been a bus ride from the convention center, but Lisa and I, having already purchased a day pass on the system, decided to ride the train downtown, then walk to the restaurant.

Spot the Bear )

After dinner, we once again could have taken a bus, but we preferred tram (Line 4) to Central Station. Line 7, which would have taken us straight to the convention center, is replaced by the 7x bus due to construction of Pasila Station. We'll take buses if we must, but we prefer rail transit even if it's not the shortest journey.

A Couple of Train Station Photos )

Four minutes after departure, we got off at Pasila. We'll be on the trains again tomorrow. We wish we'd done a bit more research over the cost of transit passes. A 1-day pass (which you can buy on board the trams and buses) is €9. A 2-day pass (which you must get from a ticket machine at a station) is €13.50 and is obviously a much better value. All Worldcon members will receive transit passes good for the convention days, but that does us no good on the "shoulder" days like today and tomorrow.

The restaurant? Well, I can't say as I recommend Umeshu. I've had much better. It wasn't bad, but I don't think it was all that great, either. But we enjoyed the company.

Between the past two days, I've logged more than 20K steps, but 3/4 of them were today, because of the semi-enforced idleness on board ship. My feet already hurt, and we're only at Worldcon day -2.

Now I hope I can get some sleep because we have to be up early to get Lisa back downtown for the 8 AM departure of the tour to the nuclear power plant.

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